Researchers at Caltech have developed a computer chip that can store quantum information in the form of light, at the nanoscale. Though still in the experimental phases, quantum computers work on the same basic principle, storing data in quantum bits.
The difference is that thanks to the quirks of quantum mechanics, qubits can not only be either 1 or 0, but both at the same time, allowing them to hold data much more efficiently.
Optical quantum devices like the new Caltech chip store and carry that information on photons of light, which are fast and secure because they have no charge or mass.
“This technology not only leads to extreme miniaturization of quantum memory devices, it also enables better control of the interactions between individual photons and atoms,” says Tian Zhong, lead author of a study describing the new chip.
To make the chips a practical option in quantum networks designed to transmit information over long distances, they need to be able to store the data for at least one millisecond.
“Such a device is an essential component for the future development of optical quantum networks that could be used to transmit quantum information,” says Andrei Faraon, corresponding author of the study.